Many Americans are all big on freedom. They don’t favor arranged marriages. I think that’s a little hasty. I didn’t used to think arranged marriages seemed like a good idea, but now that I’m old enough to arrange one, I have changed my mind.
It’s Valentine’s Day, so I’m thinking about these things: love, relationships, marriage. My kids are just entering, or getting close to entering that stage in their lives where their parents should talk to them about all of these subjects. And, let me tell you, my kids HATE it when their parents try.
Our kids do not appreciate their parent’s insight into relationships. Our children are offended by Scott and me. I visualize our children talking to a therapist one day. They will say, “I don’t know. I just can’t seem to move past the bad memories. My parents were married more than twenty years, and they still liked each other…a lot. I still have nightmares of them hugging, holding hands and laughing with each other like they were young. It’s sick. You can’t wipe those images from your mind. Now I just have to find a way to heal.”
That’s how our kids act. Even our dog is in on it. No one likes it when Scott and I hug or show each other affection. They try to break it up. Just in case you’re not following me, we’re talking occasional, sweet, Disney version hugs here. I don’t know what YOU were thinking, but this isn’t that kind of blog.
I have to get over the guilt I have for liking my husband. Instead I foster a small hope in my heart that way down the road, when our kids have their own kids, they will remember that having your spouse as your number one favorite person to hang out with, is just a state of normal. I hope I live long enough to see it. Grandma will get some pay back then too. I don’t know how, but she will. You remember that.
I don’t have to tell you that a lot of crap comes flying our way in life. Great relationships make all of that doo doo not stink quite so badly. I want to tell my kids how to choose their mate well. They won’t let me, so I’m telling you instead. Thanks for that. Here’s are some questions I would like my kids to ask themselves about a prospective mate:
How do they treat the people they don’t have a crush on?
The kids are really sick of hearing this one. I’ve said it a lot. If someone likes you, and they’re nice to you, it means exactly nothing. EVERYONE is nice to the people they have a crush on, it’s a fact. Don’t trust grand gestures and flattery. Trust every day kindness.
Pay attention to how a person treats the people they have no interest in ever dating; if they treat those people nicely and with respect, that’s a good sign.
I dated someone once who would say things like, “I hate that person.”
I would say, “Wow. You hate them? They must have done something horrible. What did they do?”
He would usually reply with something like, “I don’t know. They just bug me. I hate them.”
I know. I know. That’s a nonsensical conversation that I wish I was never dumb enough to have. Now you know why I feel the need to give my kids advice.
Are they emotionally predictable?
Emotions. You need to keep those babies under control. I’m not talking about getting teary eyed when you see a commercial about the Humane Society type of emotions. I’m talking about people who accidentally turn their lives in to a Soap Opera; people who convince themselves that a flat tire, forgotten homework, or a bad hair cut is a real problem. People who cry a lot, yell a lot, get mad a lot, give people the silent treatment a lot, are grumpy a lot, or feel sorry for themselves a lot are going to be a lot of work. I’d take a pass on those people.
Choose people who are predictably calm and happy. That way, if they are sad or angry, you know it’s probably something worth being sad or angry about.
If you ask them to call in sick to hang out with you, will they say no?
I hope so. There’s nothing more attractive than someone who honors their commitments. As you get older, your commitments grow. If you’re married, and out in the world showing up and getting your job done, while your spouse is lying on the couch watching Netflix, avoiding theirs, you’re going to be grossed out. I’m just telling you now so you know where things are headed.
Are they interested in things that don’t involve you?
A partner who has a passion for things that you don’t know about is an interesting person. Sometimes it can feel like a really long life. It’s better when it’s interesting. If your partner can teach you things you didn’t know before, you will admire them even more.
Do you believe the same things?
You have GOT to figure this stuff out before you get married, not after. Here’s why: Life will punch you in the gut. I hate telling you that. I wish it wouldn’t, but it will. I wish I could prevent it. I can’t. When you do get the wind knocked out of you, and your family finds out someone you all love has died, or developed a drug addiction or cheated on someone or been abused, your kids (my grand kids) are going to want answers. You’re probably going to tell them to talk to God. You may say that God has a plan, and they can trust His plan.
If your spouse tells them there is no God. Life is random. That will be confusing. It doesn’t leave much for you and your spouse to talk about either.
Do they interrupt you?
Interrupters are the worst. Don’t be one. Don’t marry one. It seems like a small thing, but it’s actually a big thing. If you found someone who looks you in the eye, and waits for you to finish your thoughts before they share their own, there’s a good chance you have found someone who is unselfish. You’ll enjoy spending your life with someone who is unselfish. Feeling like you’ve been heard by someone who cares will save you money on therapy too.
Do they make you laugh?
You should find someone who appreciates humor, and who can laugh at themselves too. In our house (like most others), we have had some serious things to handle. I watched a documentary one time on stress management. I learned how important it is to find a way to manage stress so that it does not make you physically or mentally ill.
A lot of the strategies described are not ones our family has employed. Then they mentioned humor and laughing. That’s it. That’s what we do. That’s one of the biggest reasons we’re upright, functioning and moving forward.
Even at the very peak of our most stress filled moments, I would guess no more than 20 minutes pass before someone has cracked a joke, and someone laughs. Laughter dissolves tension. I thank God he gave me a husband who agrees there is almost always something to laugh about. I hope my kids find someone like that too.
If you could choose one person to live with you on a deserted island for the rest of your life, would you choose this person? Would you be happy there?
I hope it’s yes to both questions. Your mate should be able to say yes too. When you have met the right person, you do not have to ask yourself if you have met the right person. You just know.
I’m sorry to be so disgusting kids, it’s kind of my job as a parent though. If you’re not going to let me arrange your marriages, then the least you could do is just hear me out on these things.
I’ve got more to say, but let’s just marinate on the above for now. Do you like that turn of phrase? I heard a lady say we should “marinate” on her words once at a seminar. It made want to put her in a headlock and give her a face wash in the snow. I thought I’d try it here.
I made such a good call when I chose your Dad. And that’s nothing compared to how good a call he made when he chose me (Oh, remember to find someone who’s humble too. Like me.) I just want to help you to do the same.
Happy Valentines Day!!!!